Date of Award

Spring 6-6-2023

Document Type

M.A. Essay

First Advisor

Nirvana Tanoukhi


Asian American literature has reached an impasse: it continues to aim for representation and institutional recognition, but the category has become so broad that it is hard to say what the center of it is anymore. I argue that the interests of the Asian American community would be better addressed better with a more fluid conception of the category. The fundamental issue that plagues the Asian American community is racialization. Attending to this requires letting go of the racial category as a rallying point and doing away with representation politics. I read Aiiieeeee!, the first anthology of Asian American literature, and Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Namesake to show how the construction of the Asian American identity is a stumbling block to racial equality. I turn to Toni Morrison’s Recitatif to argue that fluid conceptions of race and identity are more generative towards that goal.

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